Autism | Friendship | Loneliness | Support Groups
Why I Left the Autism Support Group
It started off fairly well, but I had to leave in the end
Late last year, I started attending a local support group for autistic adults. In a previous article, I wrote about my first few weeks there. Back then, I had high hopes — but things did not go very well in the end.
I wanted to share my closing experience, without putting you off trying a group in your local area — which has every chance of having a better outcome than what I experienced.
The Beginning of the End
At the start of the year, I had a series of ‘bad weeks’ at the group, which made me decide that it wasn’t for me. I stopped going some time around February, and I now feel ready to describe what happened.
In early January, I found myself at a table with someone who did not speak. Everyone else was sitting at other tables, and I felt like it would be rude of me to move. It was an awkward situation, and I felt very alone.
After sitting silently for some time, I decided I should try to make the best of the night, so I attempted to engage others in conversation. Doing that from a distance is never easy for me, but I asked a number of questions, such as how their Christmas holidays had gone. Despite them answering, the conversation felt one-sided and they did not seem interested in my Christmas.
A volunteer talked about problems with a gift voucher, and I spent some time listening to her and trying to be supportive. The following week, I made an effort to ask follow-up questions, and show an interest, but the reply was very one-sided and it felt like I was just there to listen.
Breaking the Ice (Again)
Realising that I’d still not had much of a conversation with the people who run the group, I made a point of sitting at a table with one of them. Then, out of the blue, some new members turned up, which prompted her to move tables. She spent the rest of the evening talking to them, which left me sitting alone yet again.